Five cents short of success

· Sep 24, 2001 Tweet

Ever hear a great song on the radio and get excited for a new record? It happens to people all the time. Many felt this way about Vancouver-based Nickelback and their third LP, Silver Side Up, released Tuesday. The album was promoted on the strength of the melodic modern rock sounds of the first single “How You Remind Me,” which has been burning up the radio charts for some time now.

Unfortunately, from the opening note of the record, one can’t help but get a sinking feeling. It is one of those CDs that just seems as if it will not live up to expectations. This is not to say that the album is bad, but one feels rather “on the fence” after listening to Silver Side Up and comparing it to truly great, highly appreciable albums.

Before assessing the negatives of Silver Side Up, it is important to expand on the strengths of Nickelback. There is no question about the musical talent of the band. They have a sound that is distinctly Canadian and bears resemblance to groups such as the Matthew Good Band. Listeners who have spent time listening to a variety of Canadian acts would understand this comparison.

The bass playing on the album is solid, as is the drumming. The guitars are tight, and vocalist Chad Kroeger has a strong voice that carries well over the music. Nickelback has strong potential in the modern rock market, and they exhibit that potential on a few of the tracks on their latest LP.

The lead track “Never Again” is dragged down by the lyrics, which seem to have come from a genuine place in the artist but come off diluted to the listener. Kroeger sings, “He’s drunk again/ It’s time to fight/ She must have done something wrong tonight/ The living room becomes a boxing ring/ It’s time to run when you see him clenching his hands/ She’s just a woman … never again.” The music is well mixed and melodic, but it’s not an example of what Nickelback is capable of. Something in the lyrics just seems to drag the song down.

Album highlight and first single “How You Remind Me” fuses clean chords and strong lyrics, before breaking into a distorted version of itself that stops and starts with intense melodic sequences. Kroeger screams “I’ve been wrong/ I’ve been down/ Been to the bottom of every bottle/ These five words in my head scream “Are we havin’ fun yet?” The song itself is an indication to new Nickelback fans that the band has a strong knack for melody. It leaves you craving more.

“Woke Up This Morning” is the strongest track on the album, next to “How You Remind Me”. The song opens with distorted guitar harmonics, before Kroeger opens up with an intense and fast paced vocal string of “I paid my last respects this morning on an early grave/ Already said goodbye … nothin’ left to say”. The song then rolls into a slow piece of music that resembles Motley Crue’s crescendo on “Home Sweet Home.” Although not as radio-friendly as “How You Remind Me,” “Woke Up This Morning” is a noteworthy track on this short collection of music.

“Just For” is a track with untapped potential. Throughout the song, the listener is left with the feeling that something is missing. Although melodic, it comes off as generic and leaves the listener wanting a little something more, something edgier. Like the rest of the record, the lyrics on this track are very intense in nature, and sometimes violent. Kroeger sings “I want to take his eyes out just for looking at you,” in this story of an abusive relationship, a theme that is repeated throughout the album.

“Hollywood” is one of Silver Side Up‘s weaker tracks. The slow and distorted guitar riffs just don’t seem to go anywhere, and the lyrics aren’t terribly interesting. It seems to be a filler, and when it ends, you feel like it was nothing more than an intermission from the rest of the record.

“Honey Bought” is more melodic, with its galloping guitar rhythm and spin cycle of effects giving it a fresh sound. A quiet bass line that echoes under the vocals accompanies the verses. The chorus of “Look what your money bought/ It’s all that she’s got/ It keeps her company/ Straight from mom and daddy” is the most memorable part of the track, and acts as its signature.
Overall, Silver Side Up shows signs of potential for Nickelback. They are not beginners at the game of music. They know what they are doing, and with a bit more focus on creating bigger sounds that dominate tracks like “How You Remind Me” and “Woke Up This Morning,” Nickelback could be a really good modern rock band. The framework has been laid. Perhaps next time Nickelback can put together a stronger album.

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This article was published Sep 24, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Sep 24, 2001 at 12:00 am

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